What did the ‘special meeting’ on water tell us? (November 23, 2015)

Pat Orr

Really, what did we learn at the Apple Valley Town Council’s special meeting Tuesday regarding the ongoing Water Wars?

Well, not much that we didn’t already know.

The Ranchos Water Company lawyers circulated a 17-page response to the Town’s Environmental Impact Report which raised objection to every element of the Town report including the paper stock it was printed on. A slight exaggeration, but that was their job.

It was taken up by Ranchos spokespersons and supporters who repeated many of the objections to the Town’s EIR stated in the 17=page [sic] document in case one or more of the Council members didn’t read the entire document. Not much movement there.

As always with a free-for-all public meeting there were plenty of repetitive and off-point comments. At least three self-appointed community activists who berated the Town for various imagined infractions of rule and law were so arrogant — one even refused to acknowledge the time rule for speaking — that they actually hurt the Ranchos cause.

Surprisingly, a crowd majority seemed to favor the Town take-over plan. It was clear from several comments that an anti-Town position was not going to be a political winner in the 2016 Town elections and that overall people were just fed up with water rate increases. Apparently, all the full page ads and four-color mailers from Ranchos hasn’t [sic] moved public opinion in their direction.

Perhaps the only traditionally persuasive argument against a government take-over of a private business is the generally accepted conservative belief that private businesses run more effectively and efficiently due to competition in the marketplace. Most conservatives, like me, routinely complain about government programs that stifle competition and kill innovation that leads to better service and lower prices.

What mucks up this whole local water conversation is that this utility that we all need to survive is not an open market private businesses. Like Edison, Southwest Gas, Verizon and others, it is a monolithic monopoly that government has allowed to evolve free of any real competitive pressure — a point made by several speakers at the meeting. If this were the Town trying to take over McDonalds, Target or Stater Brothers, I would be carrying torches and marching on Town Hall.

Clearly our community (thank God) leans to the right, which is why so many long-time residents and business owners are torn between a basic conservative belief system that decries government intervention of any kind and the reality that Ranchos is a high-value corporate asset being operated for the benefit of investors and shareholders, not Apple Valley water users who pay the bills.

That is not an accusation, it is how a private business stays in business. Yet those who favor the Town takeover will be called ideological sell-outs by fellow conservative big-government haters.

The final question might be: Do you want purist idealogs sitting in those council seats or folks trying to protect the Town’s development future? There is no snap bang answer to that question for this observer who has friends on both sides of this issue, but based on the public input at this meeting, one would conclude that a majority of residents seem to have come to a decision on the matter.


Source: Pat Orr, Apple Valley Review, applevalley-review.com

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